The Ticking Clock
Today was ‘D’ Day.
Laura was sitting in the kitchen, staring at the clock on the counter. It was 11am. She hiccoughed for the third time in as many minutes and concluded that she was horribly drunk. With great difficulty she dragged her eyes away from the clock and squeezed them shut. But her ears betrayed her eyes as she found that she couldn’t escape the clock’s incessant ticking. If she had been thinking soberly she would have realised how pointless anger against an inanimate object was. Had time really been her enemy? She sighed. She only had herself to blame. They had set themselves a time limit, although she had never imagined that the day would have arrived so quickly. She sat in silence for a little longer, before concluding that this was becoming maudlin. She blinked and caught her reflection in the oven door. Bedraggled hair, a crumpled nightshirt and a mascara-stained face which would have made any fan of the band KISS proud. She snorted and then slumped infinitesimally lower on to the worktop. What a mess.
An hour later the midday sun brightly caught her face and she felt her head ache. After a moment’s pause she reached again for the champagne bottle. She had taken the first bottle she had managed to lay her hands on in the fridge and began to study it closely, to focus on the specific, instead of contemplating her tear-soaked life. Her eyes came in to focus and she laughed a short throaty chuckle as the irony hit her. The bottle she had picked up was exactly seven years old. She traced her fingers over the handwritten label pronouncing her wedding date in a florid script. She scrunched her eyes shut and pushed the bottle away. She tried to blink away the fresh wave of tears that shook her. But each time she blinked, like a surreal movie reel inside her addled mind flashed a new and vivid memory: Eyes shut: saying her vows, Eye open: their sweet first married kiss, eyes shut: the first taste of this champagne, eyes open: clinking glasses and merry speeches, then the cake, the cutting and the laughter, the constant laughter now chiding her and parading around her head like a looping carousel. The alcohol fuelled memory roundabout sped ever faster as more recent memories flooded into Laura’s brain in rapid succession. The anniversary trip to Seville, the barbecue that just wouldn’t light for that long, hot summer, the frostbitten walks in the country followed by the warming pub lunches, and more laughter. She reached for the bottle and took a long dramatic swig, perhaps this would drown out the memories. But try as she might, she couldn’t stop the memories now, her brain had been singed open by the hot strong of the cool fizzy liquid. She remembered the most intimate thoughts. She remembered the love making, lots and lots of sex. The mingling of their bodies, of sweat trickling down their torsos, of the momentary climaxes and the long nights. Then a howl of ecstasy became a howl of anguish as she recalled the awful sounds she made when she found out that her father had not survived the night. They had clung to one another as she had sobbed. Years of tears for the memories she wouldn’t now make with her father fell that night. And at her most vulnerable she displayed her soul to the man she loved, not contemplating for a second that two short years later her soul would be yet another part of herself that she had unthinkingly given away to someone who wasn’t hers for keeps. She loudly sobbed.
The thoughts of her father had eased the carousel of history with a sudden jolt. No more memories came, and instead a crushing numbness and silence returned. She drew herself up and pushed the bottle away. There was no point torturing herself any longer, documents had been signed and the removal men were due to arrive in a few hours. After a blank few minutes, Laura became hateful. Her newfound anger was directed towards the large calendar that was affixed to the opposite wall. It screamed at her in bright scarlet lettering “23rd July! 23rd July! 23 July!”. She stood, ripped the calendar off the wall then slowly eased herself to sitting on the cold tile floor. She took one last look at the clock, the champagne, the ripped calendar and momentarily stared straight at the brilliant sunlight. Then she violently threw up.